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CLAVA (ῥόπαλον, κορύνη), a club. The shape of the club is seen in works of art relating to Hercules, who is usually represented with a club (Soph. Trach. 512; Aristoph. Frogs 47; Prop. iv. (v.) 9, 39; Ov. Met. 15.114; Her. 9.117; Suet. Nero 53), and therefore called Clavige (Ov. Met. 15.22, 284; Fast. 1.544). Hence the

Hercules wrestling with Nemean lion: the club by his side. (From a Roman lamp.)

expression “Herculi clavam subtrahere” of an impossible undertaking (Macr. 5.3.16). The club was sometimes carried, instead of the walking-stick, by certain philosophers as a mark of affectation (Sid. Ap. Ep. 4.11, 9.9; Carm. 15.197). In Homeric times, the club shod with iron, or made of bronze, was used as a mace in fighting (σιδηρείῃ κορύνη, Il. 9.141; ῥόπαλον παγχάλεον, Od. 11.375); and in the army of Xerxes the Assyrians carried wooden clubs knotted with iron (ῥόπαλα ξύλων τετυλωμένα σιδήρῳ, Hdt. 7.63). Peisistratus had a body-guard of club-bearers (κορυνηφόροι), as less invidious in a free state than δορυφόροι, or men armed with spears (Hdt. 1.59; D. L. 1.66; Plut. Sol. 30). Though the club or mace was not usual in the Greek army, it was used occasionally; and we thus read of Arcadian hoplites carrying clubs (ῥόπαλα ἔχοντες, Xen. Hell. 7.5, § 20). Both Daremberg and Saglio and Rich give a figure of Mars, from an ancient Roman fresco-painting of the Villa Albani, where the god carries a mace studded with spikes. In the Column of Trajan the club appears as the weapon of some auxiliary barbarians.

Among the Romans the recruits were taught to fight with a club instead of a sword, against a dummy or stake (palus) set in the ground (Cic. Sen. 16, 58; Veg. Mil. 1, 11; cf. Juv. 6.247).


hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 47
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.59
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.63
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.375
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 512
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 7.5
    • Homer, Iliad, 9.141
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.114
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.22
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.284
    • Suetonius, Nero, 53
    • Plutarch, Solon, 30
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